Japan’s Biggest Hotel Chain Coming to the US

If you haven’t heard of APA Hotels before, you aren’t alone. Up until now, the hotel chain existed solely in Japan with 347 properties. The largest Japanese hotel chain kicked off their expansion to the US today with the soft opening of the ANA Woodbridge, New Jersey (which was previously a Hilton property). The Woodbridge property will stay open during renovations, which include an overhaul to the common areas by summer of 2016 and guest rooms by 2017.

More APA hotels are planned in cities where Japan Airlines flies, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, New York, Washington DC and Boston. The US expansion comes as part of a 3-year joint venture with Friendwell, a US based company.

Founder Toshio Motoya sees APA’s urban hotel concept as a great fit when there is a push towards environmental and energy savings and believes the energy and water savings will result in carbon emissions a third of those of a regular urban city hotel.

In an interview he noted, “Prius is more popular than Cadillac, and the 787 plane and regional jets are replacing 747s.”

Some of the cost-saving features include power switches bedside that control the whole room and oval tubs with rain stoppers –

M APA tubs

In larger hotels there will be a traditional Japanese bathhouse, which sounds really cool. I can’t say I care for those keycard activated room controls though, where the air conditioning shuts off when you aren’t in the room. Yes, it provides energy savings but if I am going out to dinner and want my room nice and cold for when I get back and am ready to sleep I don’t want to have to wait for a couple hours. A well-placed old hotel keycard in the slot generally works well though.

Unfortunately, the guest rooms aren’t slated to be very large at all. In fact, Motoya says they’ve gotten complaints before about the tiny size. It is done like that on purpose though, since their research shows that people don’t spend much time in the room itself.

The rooms at the Woodbridge property in New Jersey don’t indicate the square footage, but they look reasonable enough if not downright roomier than I expected.

APA Woodbridge

Looking at the hotel rooms at the APA Hotel Shinjuku Kabukicho Tower however, the rooms look much, MUCH smaller. In one photo on the hotel’s website, the bed is the full width of the room!

APA Shinjuku

Here’s an artist’s rendering of what a sample hotel room layout design might be for an APA hotel –

APA room layout via Hotel News Now
APA room layout via Hotel News Now

This hotel chain’s initiative seems a great fit right now in an industry that is pushing towards pleasing Millennials with more technology and less frills. In fact, earlier this year HotelRez released the results of a study that showed that Millennials often want businesses to reduce waste as much as possible and prefer to spend more time in the lobby with others, rather than alone in their room.

APA hopes to expand so that there are 100 hotels in 5 years in the United States.

Have you stayed an an APA Hotel before? If so, would you stay at another?

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